PHOTO: Go ahead. Tell me a Modified doesn’t intimidate you. It should. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

As summer has seemingly started early in the Northeast, I have finally come to the realization: racing season is here. Maybe, though, we could have started earlier if we knew back in October that I would be wearing shorts in the middle of March. The press releases are more than trickling in now, some series with ties and interests to the northeast have already started competition, and we’re ready to attend our first race.

If you haven’t been to the Waterford Speedbowl for any race, go. If you can find time to go to Waterford for Blastoff Weekend, do it. I’ve been to Waterford twice, and it has quickly become one of my favorite tracks in New England. Their Saturday night divisions, from the top tiered SK Modifieds and Late Models, to their street stocks and mini stocks, put on some of the best racing I have seen. The Speedbowl is one of the raciest tracks and the two latter support divisions are among the best support divisions in New England.

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The Valenti Modified Racing Series quietly had some news over this offseason. From Kevin Rice of Area Auto Racing News and the Lowell Sun, the Valenti Modified Racing Series announced an adjusted plus/minus handicap system for 2012. The winner of each heat race will be given an additional “+1” to their handicap. Thus, if the polesitter in the heat race wins the race, he will receive a “+1” handicap instead of a “0”. It’s something unique, and I like it. It rewards the heat race winner.

In addition to the adjusted plus/minus system, former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Todd Szegedy announced he will run eight Valenti Modified Racing Series events in 2012. Szegedy is another in the long list of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers that have raced with the Valenti Modifieds. And again, the fans are the ultimate winners.

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I’m not a huge college basketball follower, but like any sports fan, I watch the tournament. And fill out a bracket.

I’m in the 14th percentile. I should just stick to racing.

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However, I’m not doing any better in the VMM Fantasy Auto Racing Challenge. In fact, well, I stink. It was a slow start to the season, but Checkers or Wreckers Racing is working hard in the shop. Maybe we should try to hire Chad Knaus away from Hendrick.

1 – Doyle 51 Motorsports – 1,195
2 – Maine-i-ACT – 1,109
3 – Fuzzy’s Flyers – 1,091
4 – Magic Shoes – 1,079
5 – RocknRacers – 1,044
6 – Miller-UP – 1,002
7 – Do the Dew 88 – 995
8 – 68racing – 992
9 – essexcadet – 981
9 – SkittleCar1 jC… – 981

Checkers or Wreckers Racing sits 23rd in the standings, 284 out of first. Maybe it’s time to fire the driver.

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I listened to our friends Eric LaFleche and Alan Ward on their podcast, Victory Lane Radio, this past Monday night as they had ACT President Tom Curley on. Like him or hate him, the ACT head man always brings an inside prospective as to his through process.

One of the more interesting bits of information to come out of their interview, and posted today on the ACT website, is the ACT tire policy for 2012. It allows for more “6” tire races, where teams will be given the option to play strategy and change tires during the event. We saw Nick Sweet during the Labor Day Classic 200 last year take two right side tires late in the event, and then charge back through the field to win. That example is something we should get to see more in 2012 from ACT, and should make for better events overall.

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We hope to see you at Waterford Speedbowl for Budweiser Blastoff Weekend. If you can’t be there, be sure to follow VMM on Twitter at @VMMUpdates for updates throughout the weekend for the happenings at the Speedbowl.